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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  August 27, 2012 7:00am-8:00am EDT

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after my book was reviewed and said, hugh brewster not know that the fourth tunnel was a dummy, and on his book in that illustration, he has the fourth final with steam coming out of it. shirley everybody knows it's not. sizer attempted to write, you know, i'm not such a dummy. as to not know. so i wrote saying i'm very surprised our learned correspondent didn't recognize the famous 1912 illustration, which is used for its charm and it's a period and drama, not for its historical accuracy. however. the fourth is not such a dummy, no am i. know, i felt like saying. you know, it was used for exhaust from the kitchen, from the turbine engine room, from
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the hospital. it had a very useful function. all the finals have high trying out the side through which is being undertaken -- through which steam was pumped. it was designed to make the ship seem like the german buyers which were forced akers and seymour bigger and grander and so forth the but the fourth final was put to good use. it wasn't a complete dummy. nor am i. well, i think -- are we out of time? it was lovely of all these questions. maybe if you want to gather around him, he don't have to buy books but i will be signing them and i will answer more questions and chat with y'all. if you have complements like my friend here, i'm all ears. thank you. [applause]
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>> for more information visit the author's website, >> booktv has over 150,000 twitter followers. follow booktv on twitter to get publishing news, scheduling updates, author information and talk directly with authors during our live programming. >> coming up, mark jacob and stephen case recall the role of philadelphia socialite peggy shippen, benedict arnold second wife, played in the conspiracy to armed george washington's forces. this program is just under an hour. >> thank you for coming. i mark jacob. stephen case is to my left. and we started studying a couple years ago, many years ago,
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discovered that the story, just an underappreciated story in american history. in fact, she was probably the most dangerous teenage girl in american history. half the age of her husband, some who is much more famous, and it's just, it's a story that nobody really knew. in fact, it just kind of, it was poorly understood for the time even. by the time anyone understood what the story was, no one seemed to care anymore. peggy was mrs. benedict arnold, and she liked it that way. she didn't want it to be anything else. she would much rather be victimized wife of a traitor and consider what the real truth is, which is a co-conspirator to try to bring down the american revolution. and who it fooled the founding fathers and got off scott free. which is exactly what she did.
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all right, about more than a century after his death, british papers and general clinton's our calls are finally studied by american scholars, and they figure out there was all this will important circumstantial evidence that indicate that peggy shippen was certainly a part of the plot. there's no smoking gun but there's tons of circumstantial evidence, enough that i think any reasonable person would agree that she knew all about and was part of the plot. but by that time she had really kind of, she'd gotten a pass from history. steven and i i think want to bring the story to another generation and focus the store on peggy. she's been kind of just a supporting character in a lot of biographies of benedict arnold and we just want to center it on her. and ride in a different way. you want to start talking about are a little bit, stephen? >> imagine you were in damascus,
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syria. not long ago the violence erupted in distant cities, and it took a while to get to damascus, and you are a prominent accountant, professional of some kind. what do you do about this war that is suddenly in the capital city were you have achieved prosperity and prominence? do you support the insurgents? do you support the government? or to just try to say how do i get through this, and come out in one piece with my life and my family impact? well, that's what the story of peggy shippen and her family is, and it's all about philadelphia in 1774, the shortly before 1780. peggy's grandfather was a cofounder of what is now princeton university. father, extremely prominent
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lawyer in the community, very wealthy. family were slave owners. still reporting in the 1790 census they had three slaves. they had seven children, and mark and i think that the father decided to play the war by being as neutral as he could get away with, leaving no clear message to the children about which side they were on. so, what happened? in 1774, in september, the first continental congress meets in philadelphia. george washington of virginia shows up. practically the first night he was there he was invited to dinner at toshiba know. peggy got to make him for the first time and in very well until she had a falling out. then we get the declaration of independence when she is 16,
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which is literally signed about a block and a half around the corner from the families fancy home. then we get to september 1777, and the british. and the person chosen to be the military governor of the philadelphia area is benedict arnold. now by that time he's had a grievously wounded that made him unable to ride a horse, and have to write any coach, and he has proven himself to be the most audacious and able battlefield commander on the continental army site. recognize that way by george washington. so he's 38 and peggy is a team when they marry. to have a courtship of about a year, and this happens -- let me back up just a little bit. peggy became kind of this society debutante at the age of
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16 or 17. shortly after the declaration of independence was signed, and the war really started in earnest, the british ended up taking philadelphia and holding it for about nine months. and during that time, peggy became very friendly with some of the british officers. they seem to be a lot more fun than the patriot officers. [laughter] it was especially a guy named john andre was just this brilliant captain who wrote poetry, played the flute, acted in plays and wrote plays, and spent a lot of time at peggy's house and became a great friend of hers. but the british ultimately had to leave philadelphia and go back to new york, and then arnold comes income is really nothing like andre. andhra is kind of handsome and vibrant. and arnold by that time is 38 years old and grievously wounded and the limping around.
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>> when the british left, did they do anything special? >> i don't know which are talking about? know, there was something called come this is another thing. and steven and i started talking about this in earnest with the help of a really brilliant team of academic researchers who steven kind of recruited and they found great documents for us because we couldn't have done it alone, so there was this event that i have certain number heard of and i just wonder why they didn't teach it, is a big blowout party in philadelphia in the middle of this, the occupation by the british. meanwhile, this happens in the spring just when the terrible winter of valley forge is happening to the continental army is at valley forge and the horses are dying and people are dying and they are barely surviving but the british are having a great time in
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philadelphia. and peggy is, too. it's the worst time in many peoples lives, maybe the best in hers. and they had this party which cost and trouble about of them to where they had 12,000 pounds worth of dresses were sold, which i think converts, pushing a million? >> many hundreds of thousands. >> just some ungodly amount of money. dedicate these bands floating barges into a delaware river. they take over the wharton mansion. if the wharton a mansion wasn't big enough for the party. they built a separate dining colleges for the event. they are spending millions, incredible amounts of money. john andre, this dashing officer from history much in charge of designing everything. he decide what colors the rooms would be and things like that.
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so it was this absurd little always is in the middle of this terrible war. so the british leave, leading peggy there, and disappointed. benedict arnold comes. he immediately, she's known as the most beautiful woman in philadelphia torches later discovers the most beautiful woman in north america. later when she goes into exile in london, spoiler alert there, too late -- but she ends up, she's called the most beautiful woman in england. so she is very highly regarded in she doesn't miss a beat as far as going to party with benedict arnold and making sure you don't spend a lot of money on parties and lavished stuff. so arnold is kind of -- t. want to get into this, why arnold would turn traitor? >> well, he didn't fit well in the groups, and even before the
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war started he was in tools with people in the caribbean to he'd been in the shipping business. and he was serving after the british left as the military commander of philadelphia. and my candidate for the bad guy in this story is the civilian head of government in pennsylvania, a man named joseph rita was exactly the same age. and my judgment, not terribly well supported by the record, but what many things i've read give me is that when arnold, a connecticut man surfaced in an something and married into the richest most comment spam in town, or one of them, he's arnold as a rival for postwar political power. and he started the president for watergate. first there was a smear of arnold on eight charges of wrongdoing of various kinds.
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and this created a congressional committee hearing under a congressman from maryland named paco. and nothing ever changes in this country. the congressional committee punted on the outcome, didn't want to criticize the finest field commander in the revolution so far, the hero of ticonderoga, the hero of saratoga, et cetera. so they busted george washington with a suggestion of a court-martial. and washington had no choice but to start court-martial proceedings. and arnold was really mad about it, and this all broke just about the time that he married a 19 year old young lady who had the relationship, not 10 months earlier with a handsome 25 year-old british officer john andre. so, what, mark, within how many, what time period after the
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wedding doesn't the documentation shows that the communication with the british begin on this scandal? and who did they communicate with? >> within months, the arnold's get some kind of guy who is really likes the british but somehow has been able to maintain a residence in philadelphia, and they ask them to find his way to new york city, and he does. and asks for john andre. now, coincidentally john andre isn't just a captain anymore. by this time, john andre being such a brilliant and influential and well-liked guy, he is acting adjutant general of the entire army. in fact, the chief of staff to general clinton. and he also slowly takes over all spy duties, so he becomes a spymaster of the british forces of north america. so here you have one of peggy's best friends is suddenly the chief spy of the british army.
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and so a month after their marriage, this letter goes and says hey, we want to join the british, we will do whatever we can to help. now, we don't know, and in the book, we don't guess, you know, we don't speculate much at all. we say we don't know how this came about, it could've been this, this or this. in this case they may have made a joint decision. she could have begged him to do, or it could have been his decision, we don't know. >> mark is a careful journalist but i think was all her idea las.[laughter] >> one month they're married and then suddenly they're sending spy information to the british and trying to make a deal. on trade even sent a secret letter to peggy sang hey, i'm happy to buy you sewing supplies. i have a deal to be employed by you.
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you know, but the letter is otherwise, other than the zeal. the letter it is an innocuous. and peggy, ultimately there is a separate level of communication with benedict arnold has with andre, and they're not getting the money what they want. what they want is a guarantee of them what they want, like 10,000 pounds? >> it started at 20,000 quits for the sale of arnold and all his secrets. >> right. so it takes more than year for them to get to this point, but some the circumstantial evidence is that whenever arnold was away from philadelphia he would send these letters to peggy that would be chock-full of military information, where armies were, where installations were weak, where they were strong, where plans for troop movements were. not peloton. it's not what a man would send to his wife. -- not pillow talk.
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she also found a way to hand those messages to the go between who took them to new york. i mean, is that circumstantial evidence or is that her as a spy? the ultimately they are about to come to an agreement, and john andre goes on for welcome almost a year? >> more than he really. so that this dramatic meeting at midnight, and john andre and benedict arnold, while peggy is up in the house near west point where they were set up, just a real quickly, washington wanted arnold to be a battlefield command even though he had a shattered leg, because he was so good. and arnold want to be of west point which was a final set of fours along the hudson river, because it would be much easier to hand over to the british because it was a stationary place, rather than try to
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strengthen the middle middle of a battlefield. >> people in the room for my age remember, '60s, when the news was full of reports about efforts by the american military to interdict the ho chi minh trail, because -- what's the napoleon cliché? army travels on its stomach. no food, no ammunition, no fighting army. if you go into a skyscraper in manhattan, high floor and look across the hudson river to the west, training your head from left to right you will see low ridges, 34 miles out in new jersey. look to the right, southern new york. been further to the right of the river it's the hudson highlands. from 1776 until 1782, most of the revolution in middle of the
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atlantic states was stalemate. the british occupying manhattan, and george washington's army stretched from peekskill, new york, all the way down to millbrook, new jersey. and neither side for various reasons want to have it out with the other side. the supplies for all those military people in those hills in new jersey crossed the hudson river north of west point. and west point which is up on a high bluff where the river makes a very sharp, two very sharp turns, patty cheyne built across it, all for the purpose of keeping a very powerful british navy from going up river beyond west point where he could interdict the supply line. so there's a reason why the u.s. military academy is a sanctum santorum, the regular u.s. army is west point. it was the strategic key to victory in the american revolution and. and what you had was arnold and
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peggy and i think to secure -- conniving to secure the facili facility. >> peggy was doing her own work to try to get in a deployment to west point. in fact, arnold's sister wrote a letter saying she was flirting with very powerful new york politician. >> peggy? >> yet, peggy was. which is weird because in all of our studies of it, peggy never is inappropriately flirtatious. she's always very appropriate flirtatious. [laughter] but she was faithful to her husband and very charming and proper. so this is one aberration were arnold's sister says hey, she's flirting with livingston. and livingston was part of the process of deciding who would get the west point appointment. i mean, the theory is that peggy was working him to help get
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arnold the appointment. and, indeed, he got the appointment to another great thing about that, if he's got a station appointment at west point, he is a picking house on the other side of the river that is two miles down, and it's only 100 feet from the riverside. so they can make an instant retreat, instant ascii. and also peggy and her firstborn son, edward, who has been borne by this time can move up there. so they said all that up and having midnight -- meeting at midnight just to make the last preparations for have come how much is going to get paid and how much am and how quickly the british navy is going to rush of the hudson, grab west point and possibly, by the way, cafta george washington who is supposed to visit the arnold that very weekend. it all comes to this amazing culmination. >> if it had worked it might very well have set back the end of the american revolution.
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washington is on his way from hartford, where he's been meeting with the french general who, they were the two people who ultimately won the war in yorktown later. and he's coming back to west point to visit the works, inspect the forward. after the midnight meeting, skipping a lot of amusing details, andre had to put on civilian clothes and go back to his headquarters in new york city by horseback. so we have washington and his entourage heading from hartford to west point. andre going to let these to -- foundry going lickety-split, and invade west point. when andre gets to the bridge, he is stopped by three men, some people say they with these accent people say they were militia men on guard duty, and
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they couldn't agree on price or contrary to release him so they took off his boots. some say maybe he was carrying spy information. some say he had money in his boots, and they found maps of west point and documents in arnold's handwriting. one of them said we better turn this guy in. so they took him to a place in westchester where their colonel was. the colonel was mystified by this. he didn't know what to do. he knew washington was traveling to hartford. so he sent the prisoner and a note to arnold with messengers and guards. and he sent a note to general washington -- >> saying he found something suspicious. so in effect there's a race going on, how will the milky to washington before the note gets to arnold. >> and washington is now in
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fishkill, one town away from where the arnold family house is. and he's expected for breakfast, 11 a.m. and he says to his entourage, let's stop, want to inspect this. it was either washington or hamilton, according to washington irving. he said no, no, no. we have to go, your excellencies. we will be late for breakfast with general arnold. and washington says oh, i know. you young men are all in love with mrs. arnold and you can't wait to see her. and he offered them to go ahead but they obeyed their commander. so with both notes headed lickety-split for both men, guess where the first note got to. >> so, it gets to the house with the arnold's are staying. so benedict arnold reads the note, quickly goes upstairs and tells peggy. according to witnesses, the very
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quick conversation and and suddenly he is out the door and he runs down to the water side and orders his barge to go toward the british lines down the hudson. not toward west point. thought it was a little weird but he promised them all a bunch of rum if they got there fast. so they had to get to the british boat which was called the vulture. and later thomas paine said it was one vulture injuring another. because he gives a. he says i'm joining the british side, and so are these people on the barge. and they said no, we are not. we are americans. were not going to join the british so they just took an an bridge instead. >> he said to the british captain, take my barge crew as prisoners of war. what a creep. so think about this. this leaves peggy in the house by herself with her son. she had been told that the jig is up, their plot has failed,
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and she's holding the bag. and meanwhile, washington is within minutes of getting there. so what she ends up doing is she stays upstairs and is very quiet. washington shows up, but the note to him has not shown up yet. so he says is really weird that neither peggy nor benedict arnold are there to greet him. he says i'll just go over to west point and inspect. he goes up and inspect and he shocked by how badly the fortifications have been prepared because benedict arnold on purpose was not doing a good job. so meanwhile, what washington is over in west point, what happens to peggy? >> she's upstairs, and they know it comes from the colonel in westchester saying for his excellency's eyes only. so i would send help in having practice goes to sleep in a chair the and one general
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washington comes back about 4:00 in the afternoon mystified, no 19-gun salute to the commander, no general arnold. what's going on? hamilton wakes up and says oh, yeah, messenger brought this note for you. washington opens up and it all falls together. because he has figured out that arnold, what does he say? all, whom can we trust now? arnold has betrayed us. in the meantime, no peggy. >> right. so peggy shippen come upstairs, as soon as she left washington get across the west point and in effect to give her husband more time to escape, she launches on something that history, with the lived of history written about this has called the mad fleet. we call it the mad see. because peggy shippen goes completely crazy for an entire day. like hysterically mad. she starts shrieking that the
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our hot coals in her husband's head and they want to put hot coals in her bid she said her husband has flown to the ceiling and he's been gone, gone. she says that general washington is trying to murder her child and she won't let him. and she shrieks down the hallway, runs around the house wearing very few clothes also. >> one of the staff officers was richard derrick. barrack street, later mayor of new york. and he said she came downstairs wearing so few clothes that not even a gentleman of the family should have seen her so attired. let alone, so many strangers. [laughter] >> so all right, obviously, you know, you can generally see how the woman who was innocent of this plot and it just found out that her whole life had fallen apart would be upset. so it didn't come it shocked
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them but i think they manage the process in a way she wanted them to process at which issue she was just distraught over this. but also the fact that this incredibly beautiful woman is running around half closed couldn't have probably -- they were thinking about other things. >> alexander hamilton fell for it hook, line, and sinker. and if you really want to appreciate alexander hamilton, read his letter to his fiancée he's writing his fiancée just about how cool this woman is and how he wishes he could be a brother to her. we don't know what kind of brother. after hamilton need relief, lafayette took over, leaving one of lafayette's biographers to right, maybe lafayette had a sexual interest in.
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spent i've got today, two years agreement about the american revolution to me only makes you like washington more. and washington is pretty sympathetic, shows up at her bedside and says what's wrong, ms. shippen? mrs. arnold the and showed nothing to do with them. she said that's not george washington. that's an imposter. that's an imposter is going to murder my child. so he can't recognize this man was a family friend. she just goes stark raving mad. for the entire day. really alarming people. and you want to talk about what was found? >> we had the day with the mad scene. and then one of my jobs in our research was to go through this colonel derek's papers that were all at the new york historical society. i was in the win saturday going to my papers. the next morning after the mad
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scene come in her hand which is very strong and easy to read is a letter from peggy to colonel derek is saying if you were the army, having any funds owed to my husband, please remit them to me immediately. which we had a quick recovery being insane. >> from then on she has none of the madness here although seems to be courting sympathy whenever possible. so she goes back just in the choice of going to new york to join her husband are going to philadelphia to join her family. she takes philadelphia, but joseph reed's people have ransacked all her papers and they found that letter, the letter from john andre to say, i will buy you some supplies but they didn't say anything more than that, but some of them suspected it opened up the whole path of communication. it didn't come in fact, but it was the one thing that kind of pointed towards peggy.
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and so they banish her from philadelphia. >> before she gets to philadelphia she had to go by carriage across northern new jersey, and it's more than a one day trip. so she stopped to stay overnight at the home of a lady she knew in new jersey, which once did not have the shopping centers. and this woman was the fiancée of aaron burr, and peggy knew her. and many years later after aaron burr had died, his memoirs were published, and he says in his memoirs that she got to the house, when inside and said get rid of the staff, i have to talk to you privately. and burr quotes her as saying oh, i'm so sick and tired of putting on airs about how terrible this is. it all fell apart on us the last
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moment, and it was all my idea to begin with. now, when it was published in the 1840s, ms. shippen family -- the shippen family, he fabricated this to get even for being spurned. >> and burr didn't have the greatest reputation then, too, so didn't really hold water. the shippen story seems to make sense. >> and by the time peggy gets to philadelphia, or a couple days later, the army has taken care of major andre. he has been tried at courts-martial for spying, being an officer in the any army behind our lines in civilian clothes. the civilians in the room would be tickled to death. he never had any legal training, and his defense was that he came in uniform under a flag of truce, and only donned civilian clothes under orders of a senior
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officer of the patriot army. pretty doggone good thinking on your feet when you're ready to feel that noose around your neck. only it didn't work 13 generals convicted him, and in a very dramatic scene after asking to be shot rather than hanged and having alexander hamilton become his best friend, he is hanged in a very dramatic event with men in tears who had been sent to give him a fancy new uniform. >> andre is dead. peggy is in philadelphia, and joseph reed has banished you. she goes to nuke city, her father takes her -- in new york city. but that's another unknown in peggy certain whether she really wanted to rejoin her husband or
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not. women were not allowed to legally to divorce at that time. divorce law was passed after the in pennsylvania. so women had almost no choice. she couldn't stay with your family, whom she loved. so where could she go other than rejoin her husband? she's 21 all this happens. and she only saw her parents and siblings one time after she was banished. >> she was banished into the war was over and then she came back one of the time but was treated very rudely come and people didn't like her very much and so she only came once. she spent her life in exile in london and in canada. i mean, the book goes from birth to death, and in her later years was very sad because benedict arnold, despite making more money off of the american revolution than any other single person, kept on losing money and getting into debt and really his
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wife at a very tough life. >> she was popular though in england, and queen charlotte mike turtur, and through the recommendation of the army she was given a pension for life of 500 pounds a year, which was a whole lot of money at that time. >> separate from arnold's. he couldn't touch it. >> he was back in the shipping business, wisconsin in trouble. could not call on american ports for obvious reason. peggy is back at home. they end up having six children together, one of whom died in infancy. for boys and a girl survived. he developed a lot of business in canada, mostly in st. john's and new brunswick. had a girlfriend there. had a love child. peggy fanned out about that and soldier done, kept her family together. as the four boys matured, they were given commissions in the british army, and --
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>> mostly went to andy. and one of them ended up living with an indian woman and having child. so peggy has a half indian granddaughter. who later moved to ireland, and it's -- >> arnold dies just after he was 60 in 1801, leaving the family hugely in debt. by now, peggy's father who strategy for the revolution work, he managed not to take sides and ended up a winner, he is now in 1800 the chief justice of pennsylvania. and we have correspondence between him and her in which her father helps her workout thank all the deaths. but the boys are all in the army far away, and we found in one of her descendents where we had a genealogist help us, a bunch of
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her letters written in 1803 and 1840 the same child who was in the cradle when the plot broker. unfortunately, she died in 1804 at age 44 of ovarian cancer. and when they went through her things, what did they find? >> they found a lock of hair that john andre had given her in philadelphia. [laughter] now, there's always speculation whether that was a romantic relationship or it was just a deep friendship. and, in fact, i tend to think that john andre liked one of peggy's friends that are thinner. >> peggy chu. that she's had more slaves. spent i would love to answer some questions. [applause] >> if there are questions please use the audience microphone. thank you.
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>> with your broad interest, delving do anything, how did you come across this one and how did you come why did you decide to delve into it among subjects to start? >> ten or 12 years ago i read the magnificent james for volume biography of george washington. and their own to good stories in it, one of which i won't tell, about half of the war and george washington wanted donkeys instead of mules, and there's a wonderful story about how it went to import donkeys. the other thing that i thought was the remarkable star was about this teenage woman, reminded me a little of some of the very young woman who got in all kinds of trouble in the vietnam war program. joe winchester more, rosenberg, others have written books about it.
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and i didn't realize that a teenage woman had got herself embroiled by the passions of revolution, and so i just kept my eye out in my other reading. so over a period of 10 years, a box i sent to mark, i committed 30 or 40 books and kept looking for things. and then i propose this to a literary agent. long story short, who said hey, it's a great idea, but you're a lawyer, you wrote to many grievances. said the agent introduced me to mark, it was a skilled, able professional writer. and between my research and my comments, and an awful lot of hard work by mark, we got a manuscript. >> right, and one of the things that's got to be mentioned is part of stephen's research task as was going through all these archives himself was to assemble a great team for archivists and
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researchers. they went our after hour, day after day they would go through and photograph original letters in the historical society of pennsylvania. >> that archive has 41 linear feet of shippen family papers. and these brilliant young people who helped us out went through every single one. >> and they posted the significant ones on this sort of, i've got to get hold of it and stephen could look at it and point me which way. and you are also great at, because i'd not heard of peggy shippen until my agent, stephen's friend, brought it to me and said would you like to work with stephen. >> he did know what he was getting into. >> yeah, it's been a great project. but they were really good about,
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not knowing much about it, i had all these journalistic questions, kind of newspaper questions, what i would say hey, i don't know anything about high hair worn by women in that area. can you give me a bunch of stuff on that? they would send me all these academic article about how high there was one. that was pretty interesting. some of that stuff ends up working down to three sentences in the book, of course. >> the loyalists women wore their hair really high. and that was considered a difference between the pro-patriot women and the pro-british women, for the first anniversary of july 4, in philadelphia, they had a mocking parade of somebody wearing a high hair, and they had to parade through philadelphia making fun of the women with high hair. >> it is a sidelight. but philadelphia after the british left, after this fancy party, was really ugly, and
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people were being hanged for cooperating with the british. in the fighting between arnold and joe reed over who was the boss, going through this has changed my attitude about the news reports about damascus, and all of the complicated mess there when everything settles down and the reformation spirit it was a pretty. philadelphia was ugly that you. >> one thing this book tries to do also try to put a human face on the list. i think in school at least i was taught that there were a bunch of really great page which you always do the right thing, and then everyone else was fiendish and only wanted to crush freedom. guess what? it's not that simple. modern historians, i've seen one estimate that they feel like 40% of colonists wanted
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independence. 20% were loyalists and the other 20% just one cannot be killed in the war and didn't really care. which means a minority were in favor of the independence. and i think for the better. >> i was just wondering, the way you described it all happened so fast with peggy meriting benedict arnold and then shortly thereafter -- >> the secret correspondence, the secret correspondence with the british in new york city began. >> right. i wonder and did you find any reasons is that that andre had actually suggested that peggy get involved with arnold? >> no, i don't -- in fact it may have been -- we are not even sure, i don't think, at least i've never read anything that established whether they knew for sure. it's not clear whether the arnold's since their emissary to
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go find andre, or simply to go to the british headquarters in lower manhattan. but when they went to the british headquarters in lower manhattan, andre was there. so i don't know that it's crystal clear that they're asking for audrey, but he was totally the right person at the right time. that seems like quite a coincidence. >> if you read the 19th century literature, except for the burr supporters, it's rather strongly as the view that she was a sweet, innocent bystander exploited by her evil husband. in the 1920s, the university of michigan clements library bought general clinton's private papers. and this then revealed to the scholarly community for the first time all of the secret encoded, spy communications, which the common-law scholars in the room will be amused to know,
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one of the code they use the most was based on blackstone's commentary on common law, which will was not going to come from except from peggy's father, the prominent lawyer. and it was only when the secret correspondence came out in the 1920s that it was overwhelmingly clear that at a minimum peggy had not been duped about the process, and creates with the burr memoirs a strong circumstantial case that she was clearly a co-conspirator, if not the instigator. >> i couldn't get summary judgment. but i think i could win the jury case. spent at least a civil, maybe not criminal. >> i have a question. in the book you mentioned that
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george washington, upon reading the note and realizing what arnold has done, that he begins weeping in front of i've believe some his aides, maybe alexander hamilton. and i think it's mentioned in the book that this was the only time -- >> lafayette. >> right, lafayette. he cried in sort of a public setting with people around him. so i guess, i would love to pick your brain on, was his dramatic emotional reaction more based on the fact of a sense of personal betrayal, or was it may be more a case of the potential fallout of what it meant to the revolution, or maybe a combination? >> i think the war was so much in the balance that something like that, such a tremendous blow like that, yeah, just as
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for the revolution. arnold went to bat. people resented him. always spread rumors about him to washington had no part of that. wind wash and reprimand him after the court-martial it was very straightforward, and even after that he offered in the left wing of his army. so i think my english is a crushing blow both personally and as far as the fate of the nation. >> as you know, lafayette and washington were so close that during the french revolution, lafayette sent his children to mount vernon for safety. and what is remarkable about the lafayette letter that describes washington breaking down in tears is lafayette said in my long close association with this man through the early days of the war to victory at yorktown, it was the only time i ever saw him break down and cry.
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>> other questions? >> just a little bit about peggy chu and peggy shippen. i know very little about peggy chu except she's the daughter of supreme court pennsylvania. battle of germantown. she eventually married general john howard, right? what's going on with those two, she's died in this whole thing. >> well now, if i'm right, mark, we all know that beautiful young teenage women often have a group of close other teenage female friends. and what was peggy's group? >> she had peggy chu and chat to friends named becky. one of which was becky franks, who is a fascinating person with
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a great sense of humor whose father imported the liberty bell in philadelphia. and so there was a kind of to peggy's and to becky's the kind of hung out together. and peggy hsu, that's the young woman who andre took, that was his date they all dressed as nice or as turkish maidens eye thing. and, in fact, one of the big mysteries that we didn't speculate on a talked about what the possibility could be was the family story is a shippen's did not allow their daughters to attend. at the last minute a group of quakers, then used to be quicker, a bunch of quakers came to the door and said this is terrible. you can't consort with the british this way. it's shocking. plus those girls outfits are just too in decent.
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end an argument about the outfits work. >> peggy shippen and the evidence is mixed over whether she went to the party or not, that did not stop major andre from drawing her picture wearing his fancy turkish maidens party dress we have reproduced a copy of that picture in the book. it's one of the objects in the alien art collection. >> she maintained what they call the birthday club with the british officers in new york. so there was this group of women. by the time peggy shippen was married, so she wasn't necessary a part of this, but all the british officers in new york in their friendly young ladies in philadelphia with count each other's birthdays, an author birthdays separately. some people look at them and think of each other in different
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places. they would do that. so there was still this type it in the fact that was discussed as a possible way to get messages during this whole conspiracy, that andre could write to peggy hsu and she possibly with invisible ink between the lines and those would be sent to peggy shippen to do so indication that i so happened that it was discussed in the papers that were released in early 1920s. which is another indication that peggy shippen was aware of it because otherwise why would you develop means of communication which you have to go to peggy's friend and then to her. >> peggy's father was very good at exfoliation of evidence. when news of this reached home, suddenly every document anywhere in the shippen family involving peggy disappeared. and we never had a chance for court of law to impose sanctions. >> right. but pretty much, many people
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think is, and we shortly think it, that there was a big, after the letter was found and it was proved that peggy had been commuting with andre during the war, through enemy lines, all of peggy's friends and family we believe burned every letter she had written. and the reason we think it is because none of them exist. and also because she was such a prolific letter writer and a half her friends were prolific letter writer to her letters in later years exist and were a great source of information for us for the book. >> these are remarkably articulate people. you read hamilton's letters, peggy's letters to the complete transcript of the marshall -- on the court-martial was published at his expense. and you read that and you say this guy, they would all get almost the highest possible award on the english essay. [laughter]
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these were articulate people with unbelievably broad vocabularies. >> so the fact that no letters exist foremost, until she met benedict arnold, and then only from that period. >> all the good stuff you want to find, no one has ever found. >> back when they were riding her papers, there was a report she had written something really can be about the french at this party, and it made fun of the frenchwoman who attended the party, and that didn't help her out much either when she got back to philadelphia because the french were in high regard and. >> i just had a question. the relationship between peggy and arnold, was that almost something of an arranged kind of thing or was it true love? i guess, what was on the background? >> no, he wrote a letter to peggy sang -- it's unclear when they met, but soon after he came to philadelphia, he wrote a
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letter saying i want to coach with the intention of marrying me. and he wrote a letter to her father saying he wanted, here are what my intentions are. and it was a long period in which the family thought no, they especially thought, they didn't want such a young, beautiful girl to marry a 38 year old with a bad leg. >> a widower with three children. >> right. whose money would go to the three children, not a part of the new marriage. so do a lot of reasons they didn't like the idea of her mirroring arnold. arnold at the very last minute bought this beautiful mansion in the philadelphia area called mount pleasant. which kind of served as an earnest gift for coming, he kind of bought it and said here's where we could live. it was kind of, i think that sent a message to the family. there's no indication from anything we've read that they were not in love with each
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other. arnold did stray, in peggy in whether talk about the pain that broader. but she seems very faithful to him, a man who was not very likable. so i think that -- but the book gets into this a little bit, especially back then marriage was not a decision made by two people. a marriage was a decision made by two families. so there was a great negotiation and great deliberation before they said yes. >> one more question. >> thank you. it strikes me that the overall plot, as you described it, was a plot i wasn't at all familiar with the details until i heard your description, it seems like the success, the likelihood of success with pretty tenuous. i don't know, it seems that arnold, i mean, that --
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>> andre? >> andre, that the likelihood that he would not make it through and that the whole plan, or for that matter, that strength of forces at west point or whatever, seems like a big risk to me, the way you described it. was there a final decision on the last minute of the plan? >> the midnight meeting on the ship the folder, and you supposed to go back on the vulture. >> what would've been a lot easier than going back on horseback. a militia officer without orders that arnold knew about how the british ship, and apparently on his own went out and fired at it. >> fired a cannon at the vulture, and forced it to withdraw. andré couldn't get back on the ships we had had to go by land, which greatly complicated. >> but he almost made. he was within just a few miles of being back there.
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this was the meeting in which they sealed the deal. in which days, a giant british fleet would've been going up the hudson trying to seize west point. what it succeeded, i don't know. they had a four-hour meeting in the middle of the night, and arnold present we told them the best way to get in. >> anti-weakens the place, and audrey had all the maps with the places to send the army. i think it was a close call whether they would've gotten there in time to capture washington. and he later wrote a letter saying he didn't think the plotters were after him. i think it would have liked of god in time to capture washington. well, i believe because of the way arnold had weakened the defenses of west point that if the british invasion of the fort had occurred, it would've been successful. >> arnold felt that if the attack, the planned attack had failed, that he would steal be safe and he would be
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undiscovered at this point the? >> my guess -- >> i don't think so. >> my guess is once the attack started he and peggy with the baby would've gotten in the barge and headed towards manhattan for safety, whether or not the attack 60 did. >> part of the deal, the big sticking point in the whole deal over this, the negotiation was how much was he's going to get paid if it failed. they all agreed it would be 200, i mean 20,000 pounds if it succeeded. but they were giggling over whether you get a guaranteed 10,000 pounds if it failed, which the british didn't like but he wanted spent what did he end up getting? >> he ended up getting six, which was a lot back then. >> thank you. >> thanks very much. >> thank you both very much. [applause] >> for more information about the book and its authors visit


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